I love good theology, but I don’t have the time, money, or shelf space to have volumes of books with me everywhere I go. What is more, I don’t always have internet, and even when I do, what is going to keep me from tabbing over to read the news again for the tenth time in the last five minutes? (That is part of why I love having an e-reader. I can hack my way through free books from online without having to be online.) Today I just want to put in a plug for the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, put up by Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
It can be hard to find Patristic theology. What about the Reformers? Puritans? Roman Catholic devotional classics? Spurgeon? Old books. I love them, but they are expensive and hard to find. In the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), they have Protestant stuff, Roman Catholic stuff, Church Fathers, old stuff — you name it, they probably have it. Because it’s a Christian site, they have the motivation to put stuff up that you won’t find on free ebook sites like eBooks@Adelaide, Project Gutenberg, or ManyBooks, and even though Archive.org might have some of the Patristics, Reformer, or Puritan theology titles you are looking for, it isn’t all neatly laid out for you and most of it is in scanned PDF files that are hard to put on an e-reader like a Kindle or a Nook. CCEL, on the other hand, has tomes and tomes in the .epub format and many more in .txt plaintext and easily convertible PDFs. Some stuff you can download for free, like the PDFs and plaintext files, but there is a small charge for some of the other stuff.
You can get individual .epub titles for $2.95 each, and some titles are available in the proprietary Kindle format or in the Apple iBooks store. I prefer the .epub files because I can easily transfer them between multiple devices. You can also opt for a yearly subscription plan, either $19.95 for a year and ten free downloads or $99.95 for a year and unlimited free downloads. Considering what is available for the unlimited download plan, I jumped on that one. I am the kind of guy who takes “unlimited” seriously. When you pay for the downloads, you help support the site and keep the resources available online.
One final word about the site layout: as you go through the site, you can look at everything they have by title, author, format, language and subject. You can read the full texts online, so you don’t have to bother with the limited preview that you get on Amazon or the Barnes and Noble website. Because everything is all laid out, you are much more free to discover new authors and titles. You can login to the site for free to read, take notes, and even bookmark where you are in a specific text, as well as sign up for their newsletter or join a reading group on the site.
Check them out and consider supporting what they do. Whether you are Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or anything else, they put up a lot of key Christian stuff that we all need to read more of.
Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertisement, and I received nothing for this post.